12 Simple Secrets of Microsoft Management by David Thielen


12 Simple Secrets of Microsoft Management by David ThielenAs the name suggests, the book 12 Simple Secrets of Microsoft Management, talks about how Microsoft is different from another run of the mill companies. The 12 things being:

  1. Even without having a written Mission statement, everyone has the same understanding of what the company is trying to achieve. Which in this case is ‘ Total World Domination’.
  2. Hire the best, in this case only the top 5% to be hired. Now how can everyone hire the top 5% is not understandable. And what would happen to the rest 95%, they also need to work?
  3. Bet the company, meaning you should have the courage to destroy what you created. And define a new paradigm.
  4. Require Failure i.e. look at failure as a necessary part of the job. And not rate people on the basis of only their success rate.
  5. Managers are qualified to lead the people in their teams, or they should know the work that each of their team members is doing. I think this comes from the fact that Bill is the master programmer and still sit and code or improve the code written by Microsoft engineers.
  6. Perform, Perform, Perform: I think this is the most ruthless thing that an organization can do. You have to perform constantly, consistently every single day and each day you have to be better than the previous day. I think this is a sheer violation of basic human rights, either at Microsoft or any other place. The irony being the people who are subjected to this actually take pride in the same thing. You would often hear people telling you how they have been living out of their office.
  7. Do not spend, unless it is an absolute necessity. The chapter claims that Bill travels economy or coach. I have heard this for other billionaire executives as well with huge reserves, but the question that crops up in my mind is, “Company or the people, who is more important?’
  8. Be a small company internally, however big you may become according to external parameters.
  9. Bill controls everything, it’s his company and there are people who have left the company for this reason. This is again something I have seen repeated in companies that have tried to model themselves on Microsoft.
  10. Ensure the enthusiastic environment in the company where everyone feels like working.
  11. Don’t have insane policies like formal dress code when your business does not need it. Basically, don’t try to put off employee creativity by making him do stupid things just to follow a process.
  12. Give the environment as close to home as possible to your employees. Now, this is something that I don’t mind.

The author of 12 Simple Secrets of Microsoft Management, does repeat his disclaimers that he is not saying these are best ways for any organization, these are just the way Microsoft differentiates itself from other companies. To me it looks like, wherever he says this, he means I do not agree with this part of it.

You may buy this book The 12 Simple Secrets of Microsoft Management by David Thielen at Amazon.


  1. cool.. I liked points 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12.. the author looks like he has taken a silly example for point 7. No doubt these guys have been the best.. but google is kicking there butt in this virtual world.. and there policies are almost different..

  2. Hmm, a book on Microsoft. I haven’t read it but I work here and hence have first hand knowledge of how much of this is true and how much is myth. Of course, don’t expect me to discuss this on a public forum 🙂

  3. Santosh, good to hear you after a long time…

    Parth, I understand, the same applies for my company as well, but like you can’t speak publicly about it. Infact the very reason I wrote about MS is because I somewhere feel the same in my environment.

    Vaibhav, I like reading all kind of books, infact I could not read Harry Potter beyond 35-40 pages, so somewhere its a personal choice.


  4. Perform, perform, perform and not rating people based on success rate seem quite contradictory to each other. Valuing performance without valuing success reminds me of factories!

    The question that whether the company is important or the people is interesting. I guess different things are important to different people. If I were an MS exec, what is most important to me is how much money and intangible benefits I take away and what I can do to maaximise my takeaway! If that means forcing my subordinates to travel economy class that’s fine. If that means, pampering my subordinates with Moet and Chandon Champagne every weekend, that’s fine too! The same applies to my own perks. but yes, I’m a fierce individualist. If you ask me I’m always gonna say the individual is the most important thing. But I might be biased.

    And no. I don’t have problem with Bill running the show. Either I run it or someone else does. As long as it is me I don’t care. And as long as it is not me, I dont care. I may try to make friends with whoever runs the show. Even then, I don’t care who it is.

  5. I did read this book a couple of years back. Its a light coffee table read. Some basic principles govern all successful companies and Microsoft has its own principles. I do admire MS for the way they capitalized on an opportunity presented to them aeons ago and have gone on to dominate.

  6. 🙂 This is another nice post from you. Like Parth, I too can associate closely since i work for MS and i think i know – what you are saying although i may not necessarily agree to all these points. What i can say is that it has become a good business for some people – just to comment on something BIG and get noticed overnight. many things have been written on Microsoft. Notably,




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